There was a time when Amazon.com was a struggling online bookstore hoping one day to make a profit. That was right around the turn of the millennium. Now it’s cited as the number one enemy of struggling brick-and-mortar retailers, some of which have been around for over a century but are rapidly closing their doors.
It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is now the richest person of all time, according to CNN Money. The 53-year-old passed up 62-year-old Microsoft founder Bill Gates earlier this year but has now outpaced Gates at the wealthiest point he’s ever been at. In 1999, Gates was worth over $100 billion but has since dropped down to the low $90 billions. Bummer.
So how much is Bezos worth? It depends on if you go with Forbes’ or Bloombergs’ estimation, but it’s somewhere between $104.4 billion and $105.1 billion.
The richest people in the world, according to Forbes, are currently Bezos, Gates, Warren Buffet, Spanish clothing business founder Amancio Ortega, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helu, French business magnate Bernard Arnault, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, Google co-founder Larry Page, and conservative donors the Koch brothers.
But some people point out that Gates’ top value of $100 billion would be worth a lot more now if adjusted for inflation. Plus, Gates has been far more charitable with his giving than Bezos, gifting around $60 billion of his own wealth to others. Gates, unfortunately, has donated a lot of money to Planned Parenthood, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bezos has used a chunk of his wealth to buy The Washington Post and help fund a number of other big newspapers. He’s also helped fund companies like Google, Airbnb, Twitter, and Uber, among many other tech firms and health research firms, according to Crunchbase.
He started his own spaceflight company, too, and, politically, donated $2.5 billion of his own money to help get same-sex marriage legalized in the nation, according to the New York Times.
Amidst Amazon’s success, the company has been accused of suppressing some of its employees’ wages so that they’re fed by taxpayer-funded food stamps instead of paying them more, the New Republic claimed in a piece entitled “Amazon Is Thriving Thanks to Taxpayer Dollars.” Amazon also receives state tax incentives for building new warehouses and data centers.
Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post — since 2013 — has also led to many accusations that he’s taken too much control over newspaper’s content, forcing it further to the left.
The Media Institute’s Patrick Maines wrote an opinion piece in 2016 for The Hill claiming that “not until this year has the paper so grossly abandoned the practice of separating news from opinion in its news stories.” The Post was heavily criticized for its anti-Trump slant during the presidential race despite its claims of objective journalism.
All seriousness aside, what could you buy with $100 billion? According to ZDNet, every NFL team (three times); 3,600 islands (each worth $25 billion), 33.3 billion Starbucks caffè lattes, 400 billion individually wrapped Twinkie’s (why?), or 53 working Space Shuttles. You could also give everyone in America gas money for a month.
In other news, Willie Nelson shocked fans when he abruptly left a concert stage and canceled all his tours.